October 23, 2020

it's a family thing & MY HOOD HATH ARRIVED

I don't golf and I have never caddied, but the retelling of the golf course related adventures was a high point of my days this summer - and prior summers too.  

I vividly remember when Ed first started caddying.  We now had two caddies who shared inside jokes and hearty laughs.  During dinner one night, Lad described how a rookie caddy tried to carry a heavy bag.  This kid reached for a ball or something and fell into the little lake on the course.  Even though Ed was there to witness it, when Lad retold the tale Ed sprayed his milk all over the table . . . thru his nose.  

The boys were so busy this summer, the course recap did not even happen daily, but when it did I tuned in.  I learned not to ask questions for fear of being scolded in the 'How do you NOT know how caddying works by now, Mother?' kind of way, but to just let the tale unfold.  There were hilarious golfers whose sense of humor entertained my kids.  There were golfers who requested my guys regularly.  My caddies had different opinions about which golfer was better at:  tips, putts, jokes, earning an income, drinking, schmoozing, etc.  

Reg assured me from time to time that his favorite golfer Mr. B made him laugh but that it was too inappropriate to be shared.  Great to know that along with raking in good tips, my 13-year-old (Reg's age in 2019) is getting an education.  Lad and Ed saw Mr. B at the course one day last week when Reg couldn't caddy.  

Mr. B was told that some little scrawny kid was his caddy.  He walked over to him and said, 'Oh, so you're my caddy?  What's your name, Sarah?'  Then on each hole Mr. B held his club up high and continued to raise it higher and higher encouraging his 'Sarah' caddy to jump for it.  'Come on, you almost had it that time!'  

A few nights before the boys left for college the course honored the caddies with a caddy day.  (**Note to self:  we changed Lad's flight back to school for his senior year so that he could attend this event that was of course scheduled at the last minute.  This is something I need to remember when he spews his recent hatred at us).  The 3 older boys golfed the course during the day.  Some of their favorite golfers, who support the caddy program and apparently also support the bar with multiple visits, golfed with them.  The stories were endless, the laughs contagious and I didn't even understand what the Hell they were talking about.  

I never dreamt Mini would stick it out as a caddy.  I assumed she would barely survive the basic training, caddy for a few loops, and then beg to sleep late and accept babysitting jobs - anything not to caddy.  Mini lands tons of babysitting jobs so her caddying is more limited than her brothers, but she has stuck with it and joins in the boys' banter.  

She even managed to tolerate the boys' imitation of her which includes her struggling under the weight of a golf bag.  She walks at a 45 degree angle to the ground.  Ed has begged me to get her to tame her mop, which we have recently referred to as the Heath Leger look. 

This photo of (in order from left, taken in Oct '19) Ed, Tank, Mini, Reg shows the aftermath of caddying: extreme hunger. Plus you get a look at Mini's hair, although it is more tame in her messy bun than the usual Heath-pony.

Similar to my issue recognizing music by name, etc.  I can NEVER remember Heath's name, so when I tell my 'look how Mini is sporting a Heath Ledger in 'The Patriot' look' joke - I usually ruin it as I stand there and try to remember the dude with the messy pony tail in 'The Patriot'.  Or I remember Heath's name, but I can't think of the name of the flick.  It would be such a good joke.

I might have to rethink my Irish dan
cing book, my potty training book, my how-to-parent book geared towards the new-age clueless parent, and dive right into a mother-of-caddies memoir.  The stories are endless now that we have 5 participants, not to mention Coach used to caddy alongside my brothers Pat and Mike.  I grew up hearing hilarious caddy stories across the dinner table.  

In high school, I babysat for a family who paid me well for caring for their kids while they golfed, but then I discovered how much MORE they were paying my brothers to carry their clubs.  There are layers here, folks!

In 2020, I am thinking about how caddying is almost like working for a family owned business.  The caddies have had their share of 'don't-embarrass-me' moments.  The morning of a big tournament this summer, Lad failed to come home.  Coach and I stood in the kitchen watching Ed pace.  Tank, Mini, and Reg stood at the door, poised and ready to bolt.  Lad was expected to be at the course, dressed and ready at the first hole shortly.  No sign of him.  He wasn't answering his phone.  Ed and Lad were in the same group.  Ed would be expected to explain Lad's whereabouts to his golfer - it was day two of the tournament.  There wouldn't be a caddy to fill in for him as everyone had their assignments.  

At the last minute, Lad called.  Ed told Lad:  Meet us at the course.  I'll leave your clothes in the car.  Car unlocked.  Hurry!

I guess you could say we had more than just who-is-taking-what-car kind of stress this summer.  I wish I could say it's all resolved, but as you now know the situation has escalated.  Sigh.

The next post is back to 2019 goofiness . . . BUT FIRST - after a 3 year wait, the hood was installed on Thursday. This is Wed - the night before the much anticipated crowning jewel to the kitchen and I am giddy with excitement.

Excuse the excess pictures - I am slightly obsessed. Personally, I think it's HOOD-ILICIOUS!

Anyone else wait THREE YEARS to get a part of their kitchen/other room/project done?

October 21, 2020

my own Caddy Shack rewrite: a caddy mom's perspective

Welcome to shark caddy week. You've heard of shark week with those low-budget, so-dumb-they're funny movies? Well, I have a stockpile of caddy stories that I hope are more entertaining than your standard shark shit. It's my hope that at the end of these true tales you'll vote for a new installment of Caddy Shack because more happens in one summer for a caddy than it does to a beach goer who may or may not fear a tornado that suddenly rains sharks. Get your popcorn.

I was trying to go back to sleep this morning.  ‘Trying’ operative word.  My stupid elbow was hurting.  (2020 version of myself is cringing remembering the tennis elbow pain of last year).  I don’t know what I do when I sleep but apparently it involves break dancing or handstands or something that tennis elbow sufferers should avoid.  

While I struggled to sleep, I drafted this post in my mind.  Not all that easy without a keyboard.  I was still in bed trying to lay perfectly still, so as not to piss off the elbow that plays tennis when the owner of the elbow doesn't play tennis.

I woke up at 5:20, dragged Reg out of his top bunk, drove him to the caddy shack so he was there by 5:45 am.  As in, before 6:00 am.  I did the same routine yesterday, and I admit that I find it very unpleasant.  Yesterday it was Mini and Reg, but Mini went with Coach to Milwaukee yesterday after he and I met for dinner part way to Milwaukee so she wasn’t here this morning.  

Coach is taking a class in Milwaukee, and Mini is hanging out with a Milwaukee cousin.  My sister, Marie, texted me photos of the breakfast and lunch that Mini and cousin ate out today.  As in both meals eaten at a restaurant.  Pretty sure Mini will not be returning home.  Like, ever.  Who could blame her?  

I can imagine that phone call:  ‘Come on, you know how fun it is to get out of bed before 5:30 am to caddy?  Eating out is totally overrated.  I make great meals and eating leftovers a few times a week is boss.  Your room needs to be cleaned and Monday morning is the everyone-take-a-turn-to-clean-part-of-the-bathroom day, so lots to look forward to.  How soon will you be coming home?’

The painful elbow was only part of the need-more-sleep-but-can’t-fall-asleep issue that I experienced yesterday.  The other slight disruption:  Tank was shouting because he couldn't find his caddy shirt.  

Translation to those who exist in a non-caddy world:  my older caddies don't have to get to the course at ungodly hours.  They often go an hour or two later than the newbies.  Seniority has its privileges.  

My preference is that they go quietly though.  Tank -  hollering that Eddie wore his shirt, leaving him without one is IRRITATING at 6:45 am - or really ANYTIME of day.

Guess what sentence I often utter, and is often ignored? 
 ‘Get your shit together the night before!’  

I wrote names in caddy shirts and across caddy towels a few months ago to avoid this kind of situation.  Well that worked well.
This is Ed in Oct 2019.  I think he was home for break, which was just a weekend, but enough time to squeeze in a loop or two.

My newbie caddies didn't even get a loop (not enough golfers playing for the number of caddies) yesterday, so my early crawl out of bed  was all for naught.  After I drove them, I slept 35 additional, glorious minutes before Tank woke me to drive him to his legit landscaping gig.  Then I slept another 45 minutes before my alarm went off to workout. 

This morning, I wasn’t planning to attend a workout class.  I just wanted to get some z’s.  Last night I drove half way to Milwaukee to meet Coach for dinner at his brothers house.  I had Reg, Min, and Curly with me (then Mini left with Coach to head to cousin's house - confused?  Me too).  I fought sleep as I drove home late, so not terribly surprised when I woke up and realized that I left the garage door open all night.  

Ironically just last night, my sister-in-law and I traded funny/scary stories about police ringing our doorbell in the middle of the night after seeing a garage door up.  

So, I was surprised when the garage door was up, but I was also KINDA surprised/ticked off when I noticed that the teenage car was NOT on the driveway.  

Lad.  Never came home.  Well, that was uncool.  

I had an inkling that he hadn’t come home, because as I stood in the kitchen getting Reg ready to go to the golf course, I noticed that Lad’s shoes weren’t tossed around the kitchen.  There was also an absence of weird food left out or sprinkled across the island or dripped on the floor or whatever. 

‘No mess?  Bet Lad never came home.’ I grumbled to my half-asleep-self.  This is the thought process the mother of an almost 21 year old will have from time to time.  Guessing I'm not alone there. 

My 2020 self is realizing how much better life is with 4 of 5 caddies now licensed to drive. Still, it's not as if we had enough cars for each of them to get to the caddy shack when they wished.  There was often a late night 'who's-on-first' conversation to figure all that out.  Late night conversations NEVER lead to misunderstandings (wink, wink, eyeroll, dramatic head shake), so we had that going for us LIKE ALL SUMMER.  Obviously.  

Anyone have a memory of a summer job that required you to be up at an ungodly hour?  I worked at Burger King and I was so reliable that I had my own key and was trusted to open the store.  Well, that is a story for another day, but I was often awake at 5:30 am back in those days.  Ick.

October 19, 2020

redefining driving up to the first tee, and solving caddy hunger one brown bag lunch at a time

The caddy season is winding down.  We might get a few amazing, unseasonably warm days this fall, but the hustle and bustle of green-shirted kids sleepily dragging their butts to the car is becoming less common.  Exhibit A & B:

No one will pose for a caddy photo in the morning, and they get home at different times and they nap or shower right away. Ed seen here wiping sleep out of his eyes, and carrying his shoes.  Reg is giving me the stop-taking-our-picture stink eye.

Lad hopping in the car and Mini bringing up the rear - it was a while ago, but if I had to guess I'd say there was a towel dispute and Mini lost.  It's hard to tell but I think Tank was driving and I think the car was moving when Lad tried to get in.  Of course there is no arguing on the driveway out of respect for a sleeping Mary Ann.

Last year I wrote a few caddy-themed posts and then never posted them.  Instead I shared how that awful family reserved a spot in my daycare and then cancelled last minute- then the caddy stuff was out of season.  Going out on a limb here:  guessing you aren't  opposed to reading something unseasonable.  Thought I'd explain my out-of-chronology posts that are headed your way though.  Please note:  in these 'old' posts, Tank has only recently gotten his drivers license.  

Today Tank enjoys taking the Great White for a ride.  Who wouldn't, with its king-of-the-road feel and its gas cap duct tape closure?  He drove GW to a golf course a few weeks ago for a match.  He used his GPS to find the course and he apparently continued to follow the GPS when he couldn't find the parking lot/entrance.  It directed him down a small narrow path.  

Well . . . it turned out that this was actually a cart path.  Half of his team was standing at a tee box and here comes Tank chugging along in GW.  

I hope they don't cancel the end of the season assembly that the high school hosts to honor the athletes, because I have a pretty good feeling Tank's arrival at the tee in our giant 12 seater, former airport shuttle and his subsequent ordeal of backing up down the cart path MIGHT get mentioned.  

The golf coach always has something funny to say about Tank at these small gatherings.  I brace for it each year, will it be funny-ha-ha, or funny-dear-God-how-is-this-my-son?  

These are a series of texts from Reggie.  
When I look back at our texting history,
 they're almost exclusively 
caddy related.

One year after a match in the bus with the team, Tank was doing his usual asking-50-questions-about-nothing of the coach.  When trying to get the coach's attention, Tank inadvertently called him "Dad."  Well, that was fairly memorable and the entire team bust a gut laughing.  I don't think Tank has lived that down yet.  Another time he apparently convinced the whole team that in certain states out west, a civilian can pull someone over and issue them a citation.  I have no idea where he comes up with his 'material', but he is well known for his  witty obscure insights/BS.

So, I have a caddy incident to share (get excited) and then I plan to post the caddy adventures from last season.  I don't think they'll disappoint.  It is, after all, the 40th anniversary of the movie 'Caddy Shack', so consider these posts my shout-out to a movie that is often quoted if not re-enacted in our house on the regular. 

I know many moms complain that
 their teens don't say much to them
 - at least I have these riveting texts.
This post is lengthier than it appears due
 to these texts inserted - feel free to
skip, they MIGHT be repetitive.

Reg was the only kid caddying one day late in the summer.  He texted me to say that he had waited for hours but he wasn't going to get out.  (GETTING OUT, GETTING A LOOP, etc. EQUATES HAVING A GOLFER PAY YOU TO CARRY HIS GOLF BAG).

Before I left to pick him up, he texted back: Nevermind, I'm getting out.

A minute later he texted to ask me to STILL bring him lunch.  'Big lunch' is implied. I had to hurry- his golfer was going to tee off any minute.

Well, shit.  We live 12 minutes from the golf course.  

I threw together a lunch and started driving.  I texted him at the stoplights:  WHERE AM I DROPPING OFF YOUR LUNCH?  TENNIS COURTS OR MEMBERS' ENTRANCE?

You would be right to assume that the members just love seeing my giant van with peeling paint and duct tape pull into the 'members entrance'.  'Tennis courts' is the 'approved' back entrance for the lowly caddies.  It's where they're allowed to park their cars, close proximity to the caddy shack.

Reg told me to pull into the members' entrance.  Tom, the caddy master, would  grab Reg's lunch because his guy was going to tee off any second.

Tom, the caddy master, is a character.  He's the guy who coined the phrase a few summers ago when my 5 caddies approached his podium where he assigns caddies to golfers' bags:  

"Here come the Shenanigans.  Move of be moved."  

I want that on a tee-shirt.

Tom's a sarcastic dude.  He gives two shits about what anybody thinks.  I double over on the regular when my kids come home and tell me stuff Tom says.  

At one point this summer I was so frustrated with my caddies arguing over shirts and towels AT THE CRACK OF DAWN that I texted Eddie and told him to ask Tom to order a bunch of new towels and I would pay for the entire order.

Ed texted back and said, Tom said to tell you that's what you get for having so many damn kids.  Then he admitted that Tom hadn't said that but he would've if Ed actually bothered to ask him. Somehow my kids know what texts to send and what texts NOT to send, even if their delightful mother requests it, damn it.

My kids heard my nephew, Alan - a less experienced caddy who doesn't go all that often, tell Tom this summer that he couldn't carry two bags or maybe that he couldn't go out a second time because his mom didn't want him to.  Alan is a little younger than Reggie.


Reggie is not soft, BUT he is spoiled.  When Lad and Ed started caddying they didn't have phones.  They had to ask to use a landline in the bag room to call me when they were done.  And they waited.  Like, WAITED - for someone to pick them up because I was often busy.  They also sat in the caddy shack (learning a thing or two about stuff you don't tell your mother you just learned at the caddy shack) FOREVER waiting to get a loop.

Reg, on the other hand, has older siblings who drive to the course and are usually waiting to drive his ass home.  Reg often gets outstanding loops just because he's  associated with 'the family.'  He gets plugged into foursomes that the other siblings have been hand-picked to caddy in.  

Occasionally the older kids have to remind Reg of how fortunate he is.  In other words they tell him often, "Reg shut the ef up."

I pulled into the course in my not-so-conspicuous vehicle past the beautiful flowering member entrance.  Drove as close to the grassy section as I dared - farther away from where cars parked and dangerously close to the course - but crafty enough to NOT drive to the first tee like Tank did.  I hoped Tom would spot me.  

Silly me, EVERYONE spotted me.

Anyone noticing a theme here?

The caddies all look alike, but I was pretty sure I spotted Reggie approaching the first hole.  I hoped he was right, that Tom would show up.  I wondered if the older boys would be upset that Reg bothered Tom with a lunch pick-up request.  

In this text we see that young Reg has forgotten
the cardinal rule:  NEVER WAKE UP MOMMY.
Thankfully Curly knew better.

Suddenly out of nowhere, Tom's face appeared slightly below eye-level of the passenger window.  He was driving a cart. He reached his hand in the window to grab Reggie's meal-on-wheels.  I had never met him:  the man, the myth, the legend.  

Tom:  Mrs. Shenanigan?

Me:  Hi Tom.  So, caddy-masters do lunch delivery now?

Tom:  Oh, I do it all.  Thanks for bringing this for him.  

I watched him zip away, toss Reg his plastic bag lunch with one hand while giving a wave to the golfers with the other.  I assume he made a wise-ass remark about how he needs to feed his men.

I turned ole inconspicuous around in the parking lot  As I drove away, I could see that Reg already had half his sandwich shoved in his pie hole while balancing his bag on his opposite shoulder.  

The older brothers did give Reg a hard time, as anticipated, because of the lunch thing.  

And this is why I feel compelled to write a book about my life as the mother to a crowd of caddies.  **Imaging my readers eye-rolling:  "Feels like you already did with this lengthy piece." ** 


Anyone with caddy blood in them? Has anyone ever known a caddy? Have you seen Caddy Shack?

October 16, 2020

The whole draining story

No idea how to shorten this - spent so much time writing it, but I feel like it'd be more poignant if it was more brief. I am opting to insert brackets/diff color font around parts that you can gloss over, easier than cutting out entire stories because some of them overlap and revising that exhausts me. Sorry, and I promise no judgement if you take the abbreviated path here. Really, who has time for a post this long?

Yesterday’s post was written weeks ago. Things were bad, but we still figured there was going to be a point at which things improved. Instead, things have continued to spiral out of control. 

Lad. Doesn't seem that long ago.

For 6 weeks Lad drove a car with no insurance and when we urged him to get the car insured, he blamed us for not adding his car to our policy.

We would have GLADLY done this, if he was approachable or willing to meet us halfway on SOMETHING. Plus we couldn’t add him because the car was solely in his name. He yelled at us **via text** for not just arranging to add ourselves to his title . . . and this is done how? When we don’t have your title and our only communication with you is being on the other end of rage, how do we go about adding ourselves to your title? Illogical.

[A perfect example of life with Lad:  one morning he had no almond milk, so he went to the store to buy some. I was at the island making my protein shake. He came home and poured my skim milk in his blender while the newly purchased almond milk sat at his elbow. He blamed me, like not just “I wish you hadn’t left the skim out,” - he hollered at me, THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT, YOU LEFT THE SKIM SITTING RIGHT THERE. That was our life, unpredictable and frustrating.]

I know earlier in the pandemic I alluded to some of Lad’s struggles. Ed and I spent many nights pouring over websites trying to figure out what the ef was wrong with Lad. We thought we had it pinpointed to a personality disorder, maybe Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)?

For my writing class, I had to write a feature. Needed to interview someone. That’s not the kind of writing I like. I bounced back and forth about what I should do:  write about something light and fluffy like caddying? Or something broad like adoption? Or something unfortunately personal like mental illness? 

I chose mental illness. Coach and I had a Zoom session with NAMI, National Alliance of Mental Illness, and I figured I could interview one of the very helpful volunteers we spoke with, but I ended up interviewing a family friend, ‘Fred,’ who Coach reminded me had a tough time in high school.

Fred agreed to reach out to Lad telling Coach and I:  I’m happy to try to get through to him. I didn’t talk to my mom for 2 years. Medication saved my life. 

While I wrote my paper, I read books from the library about Bipolar Disorder. There are 3 different ‘levels’. I read about Borderline Personality Disorder. I am now convinced that Lad falls somewhere in there. Often multiple disorders present together, and so Lad (who is very narcissistic) could have BPD and also have NPD. 

Basically NAMI instructed us to set boundaries. [Lad started showing up here to sleep, after we were asleep. One morning I drove Mini to her friend’s house to e-learn. I raced home for a Zoom appointment and forgot to lock the car. Lad took a golf club from Tank’s bag in the trunk of our car and drove away in his uninsured used car. Tank was SO distraught. 

Lad gave Tank the club at the beginning of the summer and told him he could keep it. Tan is on the golf team. 

I called Lad and told him to return the club or I would call the police. He was headed to the health club that’s attached to Coach’s office. Coach walked next door, ditching patients for a few minutes and told him to return it, but Lad refused. Coach warned him once more that the police would be called.]

Should I have called the cops, or not? (rhetorical, please don’t answer this in comments) Was this what NAMI meant by setting boundaries? Was Lad going to start to see that there were no more eggshells?

The cop came to my house, then he and I drove separately to the health club which gave Lad plenty of time to leave. The cop called Lad from his car. He told Lad that he was going to give me instructions on evicting him. This was NOT my request, just the cops injecting this. It pushed Lad over the edge.

[This was the one night that Coach and I were invited to hang with neighbors, the ‘cool kids’ implied - not immediate neighbors, obviously. A very fun couple down the street who we SO enjoy, but who have a dedicated group they normally socialize with (Coach and I are not usually included, probably because we can’t keep up with the alcohol consumption, I assume). We weren’t in the mood, but we went. We walked onto their deck and the woman took one look at us and was like: WHAT’S WRONG? We stayed for a while, trying to fake it.] 

The advice of my therapist is not to tell people what we’re dealing with, then it’s ‘out there.’ Well, for an open-book type like myself that’s next to impossible. I wear stuff on my sleeve. So now I cringe going to the grocery store. My argument to her is this:  That approach seems to fuel the stigma surrounding mental health issues. Shhh! Don’t tell, what would people think?

While at neighbors, Ed texted us to say that he got a text from Lad:  GOOD-BYE ED.

Needless to say, we said good-night and left. 

Coach was able to talk to Lad on the phone. He sounded angry. I emailed my therapist, who then alerted the head honcho. I assume they had Lad’s therapist reach out to him - a therapist that we switched to after Chip failed miserably, but one that Lad most likely hasn’t been seeing at all. No idea, thanks HIPPA. Coach and I sat in front of the computer for over an hour waiting for instructions, news, SOMETHING from my therapist. I realized:  HIPPA. We went to bed and tried to sleep.

I can see Lad’s bank account, it’s linked to ours. He doesn’t have a credit card. He doesn’t have much money, but when he gets money he drops it like it’s hot. A few weeks ago, he bought something at a place called Chicago Reptile for $438. I suppose a cage and supplies were involved, but guessing that he dropped some serious moola on a reptile. 

I would’ve made a damn fine detective. 

**editing to add: Today he spent $240 at an online sports betting app. Swell.**

Spending piles of money is a symptom of BPD. This explains why last year Lad charged so much shit on our ‘emergency-only’ credit card, like $300-$550 a month - and he already had a food fund/card thing. I was like, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? This year with him NOT in college, I feel like I got a raise. 

I had to insist that Coach stop texting him stuff like, ‘We can’t sleep. We’re worried about you.’ All summer when I KNEW something was not right, Coach was a few steps behind me in a fog of denial. We reached out to NAMI, and they agreed. Coach had to stop trying to engage Lad via text. It just invited our oldest son to rage at us and spew insulting things our way.

Lad hates me. Like he has said the most God awful things directed at me, and more recently started to hate on Coach too. 

Enter Tim, that’s his real name. I don’t have enough respect to give him a fake name. Tim and his wife were friends of ours when the kids were younger. We left Catholic School and we drifted from that social circle. Tim fell off the wagon and they divorced. He has hired Lad to do workouts with his high school son to get him ready for football.

When all the ‘follow-our-rules’ shit hit the fan, Tim stepped in and had Lad stay with him at his lake house. We texted Tim back and forth. He’d say things like “Lad’s a great kid, he’s just complicated.” My response: “Lad’s a great kid, who has a mental illness.”

NAMI suggested we try to get Tim away from Lad. He’s creating a space where Lad can feel normal, etc. Coach called Tim after the ‘Good-bye Ed’ text and told him that since we all want what’s best for Lad, we needed him to stop inviting Lad to his house, giving him lawn jobs to do and paying him $400, etc. Tim had always updated us when Lad was coming to the lake.

Last weekend while at Creighton, I noticed Lad was at Tim’s based on tolls paid and the fact that Tim once again paid him $400. This time, Tim didn’t share that Lad was with him. So Tim must be darkside, starting to drink Lad’s kool-aid. Oh, and Tim is completely wasted anytime Coach calls him: ‘I’ll talk to him about respect, etc’We’re like NO - this isn’t about respect it’s about a kid who needs to get help, but the kid isn’t seeing it yet. No amount of ‘buck up camper, talk nice to your folks’ speech is going to cure anything. 

Monday morning Lad got a flat tire. He texted Coach to berate him for being a horrible father for not teaching him how to change a flat. We thought:  this is it, he’s going to need us to help pay for tires. We even fist-bumped. 

Our goal: sit down with him and compromise/find common ground. This suggestion by NAMI made sense.

Tim’s money bailed Lad out with the tires. Foiled. 

[Fred met with Lad. Lad told him he’s renting a room for only $300 from a guy he used to work with at the restaurant over the summer. (honestly, I’m happy he has a place to stay that is reasonable). The issue is that it’s CRAZY far - like probably an hour and a half from his job selling cars for a family friend. And he drives like a maniac. He also told Fred that he figured he was covered with car insurance. Um, no. **As of today, he did finally get car insurance.**]

I included in my paper how we are just so desperate for a guide, a map, a sure-thing, but that doesn’t exist. 

Coach has really been struggling. Maybe I was doing better because I read the books and I felt informed, plus the awful texts come to Coach’s phone since I am essentially dead to him. I’ve been upset, taking things one day at a time. I recently read Bibliomama’s post about waking up unsure of which thing to worry about, and I thought - ME TOO. Only I knew I was waking up to worry about Lad, but it took me a minute to refresh my mind on the latest development. 

I got the sense that Coach was hoping we could lure Lad to the house and sit him down, talk some sense into him, even though Coach swears that isn’t what he thinks. I have a good friend whose daughter battled Anorexia for years, so maybe I’m just more aware that these things TAKE TIME - and sweet Jesus, does that suck.

[After the day we feared Lad might take his life, I reached out to a woman, Katrina, whose son committed suicide two years ago. He was a year older than Lad and they’d been on swim team and water polo together since they were in junior high. I always gravitated towards this mom. My heart breaks for her. Lad took his old buddy’s death very hard.

Katrina invited me over and we talked for hours. I hoped that Lad could meet with her (as I knew she’d do anything to help another family) and that she might urge him to get the help that she wishes her son would’ve gotten. She agreed to help in any way she could. Coach texted Lad telling him I bumped into Katrina and that I mentioned how Lad still remembers her son’s birthday. “Katrina would like you to stop by the house,” Coach texted him that she has little candles that she gives out to her son’s friends when they visit.

Lad blew up, texting back to get out of his way during his grieving process and how dare we speak on his behalf, etc.] 

I assured Coach on Tuesday as I cut his hair that God is not intending for us to be anxious or to worry, that He will take care of things. We can only do our part. This message was compliments of my very timely rosary meditation that morning. I insisted to him that we’re in for a long battle. We both recognize that our son might never seek help. Scary. He might always live like this. 

Today (after all of my reassuring to Coach), I fell apart. Lad texted Reg and called him repeatedly. He wanted him to put the box of new clothes he bought (as he scrapes by financially) out on our porch so he could come by and pick it up. Coach and I disagreed on how to approach this. Coach didn’t want to upset him. I didn’t want to be manipulated. The clothes were Lad’s. He paid for them. Coach insisted we put them out there. We turned to NAMI for guidance, and ultimately let him pick up the clothes.

Delilah brought her teenage daughter to meet the baby twins today, they showed up as I was debating our approach through short texts and calls to Coach. Scolding Reg for answering his phone, even though this isn’t his fault. I started to cry in the kitchen as they played with the babies in the family room. My tears wouldn’t stop.

I went to my room to take my contacts out. I COULD NOT compose myself. I sobbed and sobbed. How is this our life? This nightmare I’m not supposed to share. A nightmare with no official ending point. 

Oh, and by the way, BPD is usually caused my two things: genetics and childhood trauma, like child abuse or neglect. We don’t really have much of a family history of mental illness - a few people with alcoholism, I had a cousin with OCD, but nothing like this. 

Guess how much I have beaten myself up for the supposed abuse? A bunch. I was a stay-at-home mom, I just had the one job. I swear the kid was loved to pieces. But was I too hard on him at times? Should we have yanked him from the school where he was bullied? If I didn’t have 5 other well-adjusted kids who have great relationships, are able to be held accountable, and possess the ability to self-reflect I would feel worse, I suppose. If feeling worse is possible, but really - what did we do wrong? How can we fix it now?

Today when I fell apart I felt overwhelmed by the constant thought process of what next, how should we approach this? What if he does that? Will he get insurance? Can we get him away from this ass-hat Tim who “sees a lot of himself in Laddie” - oh, that’s swell. Every mother’s dream. How will we explain his absence at holidays? How will I write my Christmas poem? Will we always be a broken family? How will all of this impact my younger kids? 

Maeve knocked gently on my bathroom door, “Um, Mommy. So, you left the monitor on (baby monitor that is on during naps in my room - so Delilah and her daughter were downstairs playing with the twins with my wailing as the soundtrack). It’s OK, I turned it off. Do you want me to do something for you? Can I get you something?” - as she rubbed my back. My baby.

I asked her to get my phone and I called Coach sobbing as I leaned over my bathroom countertop:  I don’t think I’m strong enough for this. I just don’t know what to do anymore and I’m tired, so tired of thinking about all of it. It’s too hard, Coach. WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO? 

Coach, who never abandons a patient, took my call in another room. Told me to go write all of it down . . . well, this is hours later because my flood of tears would have no doubt shorted out my laptop, but here I am. Writing it down, after deciding to post the initial inkling in yesterday’s post that has been sitting in my drafts for weeks. 

I intended to cut this down because who has time to read this long-ass shit. I envisioned writing something short and simple about the emotional ups and downs. Something eloquent. 

Instead, this is what poured out of me.

I wonder crazy shit like, should we just have kept the egg-shell-walking thing going on? We were so damn good at it. What if our original therapist, Chip, was any good at what he did (although in my research it does say that BPD is often hard to diagnose) instead of brushing this off as ‘he just needs to get a job and move out because he was doing fine when he was at school in New York.’ Um, define ‘fine’. 

Not to mention the issues the years leading up to this that should've tipped him off.

Lad had no friends at college. He was spending money out the ass to fill some void. Physically fought with the two roommates he scrounged up when his water polo teammates refused to live with him 2 years in a row. Sounds like a textbook case of a healthy kid not adjusting well to life back with his folks, right? 

Writing is my break from the pain. Not sure how or why, but if I can find something silly to write about it distracts from our current reality. So, I have a million posts about normal-life stuff lined up ready to drop. I haven’t been sure if I could share this or if I should share this.

I do credit the pandemic to bringing the severity of the situation to light. Him living here opened our eyes.

Please be gentle in your comments, not saying don’t comment - just PLEASE DON’T TELL ME HOW THIS SOUNDS SO MUCH LIKE A KID WHO IS JUST HAVING A HARD TIME ADJUSTING TO LIFE AT HOME AFTER THE FREEDOM OF COLLEGE (implied: DURING COVID). If that is what you think, re-read this (that’s your punishment, wink wink - get it, cause it’s long) until you understand.  

Mental illness is a bitch. So is Mary Ann, but at least she usually stays across the street and is easy to laugh at.  **And with that, I feel better already. That was your little gift for getting to the end.**

October 15, 2020

Finding a place where hippa is not a thing and egg shells

 **So I wrote this SEVERAL weeks ago, and today, Oct. 14th, I crumbled - so I will share this and tomorrow I'll share a bit my emotional status**

Without going into many distressing details: our life was recently turned upside down.  

Labor day weekend, Laddie didn't like it when Coach and I tried to review guidelines to follow in order to continue to live with us.  Um, 'didn't like it' - understatement.  The conversation lasted for 30 seconds.  

Coach called after him as he stormed off to his room:  Come Tuesday you can't use our car to drive to work UNLESS you sit down and review our guidelines.

One of our requests - don't drive 80 mph on a 40 mph road.  The next point on the list - no retaliating against Reg for telling us this, if you do you'll be asked to move out.  

Lad hasn't been receptive to our other attempts to urge him to DRIVE SAFELY, and guess what - after the blow up I discovered that he got another speeding ticket.  Not sure when he'll realize that we can see all of his banking transactions - his account is tied to ours.  So, yep - I can see that he paid a hefty speeding fine in court  when he apparently lied to us about why he took the day off.  This is not the end of the world and not necessarily my business (we do pay the car insurance though and his brother felt unsafe), but ironic because we've been telling him to slow down.  

Well, we all know, speed-demon that I am,  I'm not one to talk - but I've never done 80 in a 40.  Promise.  

There's much more to the story, but our TALK was a long time coming.  We've been walking on egg shells, wanting to discuss this or that.  The timing always seemed off and any mention of the smallest detail would upset him.  

Sometimes things just fall into place. I took this pic a few weeks ago when Tank was making eggs. Was not sure where I would use it, but hey - since I have no photo of our stress, THIS FITS - get it, egg shells?

We convinced him to see a neurologist, get a head CT, (he hasn't been himself since his last concussion) claiming that we wanted to see if they had any suggestions for the headaches he gets sometimes.  All true, but was there medically more to the story?

We feared he might refuse the scan before the appointment if we rocked the boat.  Then he had the scan, but we hoped he'd follow through and get the accompanying blood work done. More egg shells.   

Coach and I think his issue stems from before his concussions and has progressed into a full blown nightmare (I've self-diagnosed him, he meets EVERY criteria on the list of what I think he's suffering from, but I'm going to bypass all that).  We want to cover all the bases.  And guess how much those bases cost?  Well, we have a bill to pay for the head CT for $1,500 after insurance.  

AND what I love is that we can convince Lad to see the doctor (this was NOT easy), go for the test (held our breath that he'd show up), pay for the test,

BUT NO ONE CAN TELL US WHAT THE HELL THEY FIND, IF ANYTHING.  Take a bow, Hippa, my constant companion.  Lad is 22.  We can provide the insurance card, the moo-la to cover the fees, but then we exit stage left.  It's dark in stage left.  I hate being in the dark. 

College -the same as far as sharing of information ie:  grades, passing, etc.  I think parents should decide when a kid meets 'adult' criteria.  Stamp their drivers license.  Something.  I suppose helicopter parents would mess that up for the rest of us.  

"Dear college workers, Little Johnny still needs me.  Can you tell me if he eats 3 meals a day and if he wears his winter coat when it snows?"

Lad is NOT hitting the mark for adulthood.  So we shelled out tuition (he paid for a lot of it with money he earned) but no one could tell us whether he was passing.   

Last summer we paid for 3 summer school classes.  He insisted he could handle 3.  I found out after he returned to college in the fall, that he failed ALL 3 CLASSES.  Good-bye stack of money.  I admit, the only reason we discovered the truth (he lied, telling us he passed all 3) is that I opened a letter addressed to him from the junior college while he was away at school.  Go ahead, call the authorities.    

Still - he's a child.  I don't care what age appears on his drivers license.  Ed will be 20 in October - he reached adult status years ago.  Not to compare, but . . . well, yes - comparing here.

So since that day:  Lad sort of moved out.  We don't know where he's staying. He doesn't have many friends.  He told family friends that we kicked him out.  (Not even close to true.)  He uses foul language when addressing Coach and I.  Sends wacky text messages.  Storms back into the house unannounced, grabbing more stuff, showering.  Kicked Reg out of the empty room Lad and Ed share. Reg was taking a test on Zoom because that room has a desk in it.  

Overall his perception of reality is a mess.  It's heartbreaking and hurtful and incredibly stressful.

You know what's exhausting?  People assuming:  college kid struggling to adjust to living at home after college.  Not at all. 

We hid our car keys, wouldn't let him take a car.  He bought a used car.  He works at a dealership and buying a used car was the plan but he was waiting for a car with good gas mileage, right price to pop up. 

I called our car insurance people.  Can Laddie add his speeding-ticket-self to our insurance?  The lady, who has known us for years, assured me that he hadn't called and he couldn't be added without our permission because the policy is in our name.  

Me to the lady on the phone, who may know me - but now KNOWS me:  


(silence as she wonders how long I've been off my meds) I mean, this is what I'm talking about.  Everything should work like this.  It's MY POLICY.   I'M PAYING.  HE CAN'T BE ADDED WITHOUT MY SAY-SO.  I WISH TO GOD THAT THE MEDICAL COMMUNITY AND THE COLLEGE PEOPLE WOULD GET ON THE SAME DAMN PAGE.

She laughed, and that's all I've got right now.  Laughing at shit whenever possible.

October 14, 2020

tutor, cancel, reschedule, repeat . . . oh well

I have been discovering that some things don't bother me the way they would've back in the day when we didn't wear masks unless it was Halloween and when we called people who washed their hands too much:  germ-a-phobes.

Then there are a few other things that probably bother me more, but we're gonna focus on the WHO GIVES A SHIT LIST . . . 

Back in the spring, we enrolled Tank for tutoring to help him prepare for the ACT.  Coach had a patient who knew someone who tutored for a REASONABLE PRICE. **Do you know over the years how many times I have said these words?  It's almost as if I'm married to the mob, "Yo, Coach knows a guy.  Comes into the clinic a lot.  Bad knees but he knows a lot about . .  ."**   Anyway, this woman (lady friend of a patient) was lovely and good at what she did and her fees would not break the bank.  

The plus side, and this comes as no surprise to me, although she never met him face to face (only computer screen stuff) - she was crazy about Tank.  He has that effect on people.  She called me a few times to review his progress, etc. and she told me what a kick she got out of him.  The bummer, she didn't do math.

We opted to do a 'just math' tutor through a place that is crazy costly.  Having discovered them when Ed was trying to increase his score, I knew they were good but they deliver an OUCH to the wallet.  Tank is deficient in math.  As in most-likely learning disabled in math.  But hey, the kid has a phone.  

Oh, don't be silly, I didn't mean he'd use the calculator, I meant he'd pick up the phone and call Reggie, our math whiz.  

Tank:  Hey Reg, how many pies would you get if the Smiths asked me to bring dessert for 9 people?  Remember I eat two times more than everyone else. (pause for equation to be calculated).  OK, thanks. 

So while everything was shut down and Tank had no sports and none of his many money-making-gigs were up and running (reminder to self, to post more on that later), he zoom tutored twice each week.

His June ACT test, cancelled.  I saw the email but I was busy when I saw it.  Days later, I was like OH CRAP I THINK I NEED TO RESCHEDULE THAT.  

By then, all test seats were filled within a normal driving distance.  I ended up booking him at a place in Indiana, like an hour away.  Tank didn't want to stay in a hotel.  He wanted to sleep in his own bed.  I made a hotel reservation anyway, and decided to make a game-day decision as to cancel or keep it.  

Now his ACT was in July. We agreed to continue tutoring, because we have a money tree in our backyard.  I have to keep a close eye on Mary Ann to be sure she doesn't try to help herself to it or anything, believe you me.

July ACT test:  cancelled.  

I have no photo of Tank tutoring, but
here he is making eggs while attending
an e-learning math class.
 Mutli-tasking, I guess.

Tank kept plugging away at the tutoring, but I said FOLKS, WE ARE SWITCHING TO EVERY OTHER WEEK.  Eventually, I bagged the whole thing.  No more tutoring.  

You know what was only slightly irritating?  My sister, Marie, in Milwaukee called me to say:  OH, I HEARD TANK'S TEST WAS CANCELLED.  SUZIE IS SCHEDULED SOMEWHERE IN INDIANA, BUT FARTHER AWAY (she was annoyed at how far she had to drive, insert my low-guttural growl).  HERS ISN'T CANCELLED.

Well, pin a rose on your ass.  Oh, and by the way, Suzie has ALREADY taken it once.  (insert image here:  me blood boiling as in quit complaining - she took is getting ready to take it a second time. Tank, no test).

I wanted 5 minutes alone in a room with the ACT people, particularly weeks later when they opened the fall test dates and I spent hours trying to reschedule him for the September test and the system couldn't handle all of the traffic.  Duh!  


Maybe the people who run this test thing scored highly on THEIR ACT, but how smart are they at handling run-o-the-mill type life issues?

Eventually the ACT folks announced that they would automatically reschedule people.  We got an email a few days later.  Tank was registered about 15 minutes from home on Sept 12th.  

As the date approached Tank changed his tune.  He no longer wanted to take the ACT.  WHAT?  Most college admissions were moving to test optional and it wasn't as if he intended to go to Princeton or anything.  He wanted to caddy and make money on a Saturday not test all day.  


Then the golf team scheduled a Ryder Cup tournament on Sept 12th.  He begged us to let him play in it.  

The forecast SUCKED.  I pointed out that golf would probably be cancelled and there'd be no caddying either.  Why not just take the test?  At least we would have some idea of where he would score so we knew what schools he should consider applying to.  

We finally agreed the night before, he could skip the ACT.  I was able to reschedule him in southern Illinois for October 24th or something, but we doubt he'll even bother.

The next morning, it rained cats and dogs.  Tank never even rolled out of bed as the golf coach texted early to say Ryder Cup event, cancelled.  

He could've taken the *&^$%&#$@* test.  

In all honestly, I just kind of chuckled.  Tank went to one of his indoor paying gigs (not caddying) and made some money.  Unphased.  As it should be, I guess.

Anyone out there with high school students? Testing, skipping? Anyone finding stuff that should drive you bonkers doesn't really matter anymore? OR does anyone else have a pesky neighbor they need to watch so they don't get into their money tree?